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Found 40 results

  1. As far as modern New Japan workrate matches go this was worked about as smartly and well as it gets. Early on they established clear mini narratives instead of just wasting time by doing insignificant "small" holds to fill time-Naito would mocks Omega and evade his lock ups which caused Omega to go off on him and start spitting at him, Naito had a long control segment based on attacking Omega's leg, Omega worked over Naito's neck and so on. It was worked pretty back and forth but with solidly long control segments that meant something AND memorable transitions. The legwork provided Naito an easy means of effectively cutting Omega off when he'd attempt a comeback or when he was already in control-Naito attempting his Fireman's Carry/Moonsault combination only to stop because his leg work was a great use of that. Naito selling the damage of a Neckbreaker he executed on Omega may not have fed into a transition but it was a cool detail that further hooked me in. A common criticism I have of the style is that they simply get lazy and rely on lazy cliches-the workrate isn't impressive because you can tell everything that's going to happen. It's not like I loved Naito running into an Omega Clothesline but him successfully hitting running dropkicks on Omega's leg served as an explanation of why he would do that and leave himself open to a counter. A lot of the strikes they did early-mid way on looked lazy, not as good as those of C level Memphis workers. Now you can say that those strikes weren't really the focal point of the match and that's a fair point, but if you're arguing that modern New Japan is the peak of workrate wrestling an All Japan fanatic can simply point to something like those weak strikes and say "that didn't happen in All Japan". The match will mostly be remembered for all the insane violence and drama that the finishing stretch brought. Naito is a complete lunatic, and was willing to take INSANE bumps to put Omega and the match over. Omega repaid him with similar recklessness. As far as the nerfall heavy finish goes, what seperated it from the usual New Japan match for me is that they worked it how I basically want this type of match to be worked. The moves should look convincing and dangerous. You should believe the wrestlers have a reason to attempt them. The execution should be convincing. It takes a lot of effort and creativity but they nailed it here, and credit to them-they didn't insist on getting all their shit in for the sake of doing so. Once he got cut off Omega never went for the Moonsault again. For the counters themselves...they were just well worked. They were set up in a way you thought the match was going to end-Omega would hit a big knee and lift Naito on his shoulder, and as he's about to do the one Winged Angel Naito somehow turns it around into a Destino, which I doubt anyone thought was physhically possible until it was done. There was also the brilliant use of Naito's Flying Forearm-it's a move Naito uses commonly, and it often gets countered too, but here it was already countered earlier on, and once that happens and Naito went for it again you'd think it would have to hit because that's just how New Japan has programmed me to view their matches. And Naito eating a big knee while going for it again is an effective play on that cliche. It's fair to question the existence of those cliches in the first place, how they've hurt the quality of the ringwork and how it could (and for some wrestlers has) lead to just everything becoming too meta and too counter heavy to work. But props to them-it did here. ****
  2. Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Title Standard fare as far as New Japan’s main events these days are concerned. They start with some mat work, but it’s quickly forgotten about and doesn’t carry much weight. This also isn’t 2020 anymore, so the magic this pairing once created is long gone. Without a cheering crowd living and dying with every near fall, it all falls into the trap of most Okada matches, which is to say it rings hollow. This is relatively brisk by modern NJPW standards, clocking in at just 27 minutes. Naito targets the neck to set up the Destino, and it’s fine and all. I can’t shake the feeling that the New Japan of several years ago, which excited me and had me optimistic about the future, is a completely different promotion than the soulless husk it is currently. There are issues here, so deeply entrenched in the epic main event formula that simply allowing crowds to cheer again won’t fix overnight. For one, they could do a better job of spacing out the high spots. Okada hits a DDT on the apron, and rather than capitalizing on it, immediately hits another DDT on the floor. Whether New Japan will overcome these obstacles remains to be seen. But for now, we’ll have to rely on small glimmers of hope like sporadic guest appearances from Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Tatsumi Fujinami, or STRONGHEARTS freshening up the undercards. The crowd audibly popped when Naito hit a Stardust Press in the closing stretch, which felt like being transported back in time a few years when things were better and it was undoubtedly the high point of the match. Hold on to those moments, because for the time being, they are few and fleeting.
  3. We're back with Ring of Honor 2018 Global Wars in Buffalo, New York. Dalton Castle vs TK O'Ryan - skipped...this starts off as The Boys vs Vinny and Taven which kills the momentum of the show right off the bat. Kenny King vs Cheeseburger - skipped Kelly Klein vs Madison Rayne - skipped...notice a pattern? BUSHI vs Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon vs Kushida - Ah a match that I'm interested in! This was fun but pretty underdeveloped and predictable. Nonetheless it still was enjoyable to see these guys do some cool spots even if obvious. BUSHI didn't do much for me but the other three were pretty good. I like this iteration of Flip Gordon. Jeff Cobb vs EVIL - I want to like Jeff Cobb but his intensity is lacking and his move set is unimpressive for his size. He has a good look and should be a beast but something just doesn't click with me. I've seen EVIL do better but that aside this was good stuff. But was not 'awesome ' as the crowd was chanting. It was a good mid card match that two professionals should be able to have. Nothing more or less. That doesn't really help my impression of Cobb though. Silas Young vs Juice Robinson - Here we go! Best Bout so far (not saying much!). Silas and Juice have a really good thing going. They are basic wrestlers with sprinkles of flash and it works out here. I was really digging this until Bully Ray comes out and spoils the finishing segment. I wouldn't care had the previous 2 bouts been better but damn dudes! Let's get an honest ***1/2 match in the books before you start with the Jeff Jarret-like bull crap! We get 95% of a very good match then some storyline setup. Whatever! Tetsuya Naito/SANADA vs Young Bucks - Thank goodness for the Young Bucks. They can get a show back on track in their sleep. Naito and Sanada have upped their games and have a great Young Bucks romp. Lots of cute sequences and fake outs but damn is it fast and exciting. Its Bucks by the numbers with Naito & Sanada plugged into that equation. And that's nothing to sneeze at Jay Lethal vs Chris Sabin - Proving ground match which is a 15 minute time limit match. If Sabin wins or lasts the time limit then he gets a shot at Lethal's championship. Yeah, best match so far. This isn't turn back the clock nostalgia. Both guys can still go! They play up their equality throughout and man are there some real surprises. I like that older Sabin is more like Alex Shelley now - he's all about Mr. Salty style submission holds. There's one segment when he just tears Lethal apart. This was smart as it not only ate up time but made Lethal weaker and less likely to hit the Lethal injection. This was a great match and if it was longer, I think it had the potential to be a classic. I liked the aftermath too. This felt like ROH of old. Best Friends vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - Cody looks like a boy in pajama pants. He is like Peter Pan. Thank goodness he's in a multi man match. OK that's out of the way! This was a very good borderline great match. There's a little cutesy crap with Brandi and a group hug but overall this is serious match. Cody looked pretty good as his time was limited. Chuck Taylor was all business so yeah this delivered as a main event. They gave it plenty of time. Delirious can't help but overbook the finish for no good reason. Maybe it protects someone or something but not much makes sense in 2018 ROH. You just hope for exciting ma and stories be damned! This accomplished that and I ain't complaining. We'll finish up with the final stop of the tour in Toronto in a day or two! Thanks for reading I recommend checking out the Lethal vs Sabin match for sure! But the last 3 matches make this show worthwhile.
  4. Kaitlin Diemond vs Karen Q - sorry, I skipped it. Long show for me. Chuck Taylor vs Adam Page - From last night's main event, we get a really good opening match. Seriously, this felt like a regular ROH opener compared to the previous show in Buffalo. That's even with me skipping matches too. The Buffalo show was anemic up until the Silas vs Juice match. This was just as good as that and we really haven't gotten started! Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Tetsuya Naito/BUSHI - What is Naito doing this low on the card? Ian, Colt and Caprice (I thought I missed Colt when he left but man I'm just a fan of Ian & Cedric together) indicate that Cody won't be on the show due to injury so they had to shuffle the card a bit. I guess that's part of why we get Page vs Chuck and this tag match. This is surprisingly good. Its sleep walking Naito and Bushi vs Vinny &TK probably having one of their biggest matches. It was rough around the edges but damn they brought just about everything that they have. With that said, I'm going note how despite this being a Global Wars tour, there's been a pretty meager NJPW presence. I'm not counting Juice because he's stylistically American. Other than Kushida, the LIJ guys have not really done anything to blow my socks off. If I was a younger fan, it'd be cool just to see them but in my heart, I'd be disappointed. Kinda like Kenta vs Misawa in ROH in 2008. It was cool and historical but not the all time classic we wanted. Well here ROH isn't even giving us fans the opportunity for top shelf performances. You stick main eventers in the mid card or below the top couple matches then I'll have to ask "why bother bringing them over?" It draws I guess but it doesn't seem to be productive long term. But heck I'm talk about stuff 3years ago! Next match! Matt Taven vs Christopher Daniels - Good match with few surprises though. I'm not complaining because its doing its job & I like both guys. But its wrecked by more interference leading to the finish. Is this fucking WCW? Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs EVIL/SANADA - Best Bout so far. Mark and Jay just beat Sanada like its Japan. Sanada and EVIL get steamed and man we get a very very good match. Its what you want and kicks into high gear but damn! We get another cheap finish. Come on! Can't they get a clean finish booked? Heck don't do 2 in a row at least...I wouldn't have minded this one if they didn't do something cheap right before this one. Everything that came before was really good stuff though so I still liked this overall. Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon - I wish they would have given this at least 2-3 more minutes. It was over before it had a chance to get into high gear. Nonetheless, this technically was the best match this far. Flip hurt his leg and Gresham went after it in some very clever and punishing ways. Flip, to his credit, sold it quite well. I mean actually the best selling we've seen all tour sans Sabin vs Lethal last show. He hesitated on his movements, collapsed when he could have capitalized, and carried it through to the finish. Had this been a little longer, this would have been a great contest. Instead, they had to rush the finishing portion and wrap it up just too soon. ----- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs Super Smash Bros - ROH Tag Title Match - Yeah boy! This is what I'm talking! 12-13 minutes of straight bananas junior tag action. It was exactly what the show needed at just the right time. You could say that it was foolish to make this a title match since it telegraphs the outcome. But having the Smash Bros on here vs Kaz & Scorpio is all that matters. Great match, a blast! Trent Beretta vs Juice Robinson - This was supposed to be Trent vs Cody but the American Nightmare is injured. So they booked this instead. Seeing as both are NJ guys moreso than ROH, they fought this like a NJ match. Juice damn near died on a missed cannonball/rolling senton into and over the guardrail. You know the fans have changed because no one was chanting 'holy shit! Holy Shit!'. If there was a time to chant it, this was the time! From there they told the story of Juice hurting his back and Trent hurting his ribs. They weren't going to live and die on this story but it gave the middle of the bout substance. It was a means to explain why they were laboring to get to their feet and pull off their moves. I prefer this to plain old ' we're tired' or 'we're loopy'. The whole thing was excellent and really made me want to see more of Trent & Juice. They did exactly what the Global Wars tour is meant to do. Expose folks to new/different guys and make ROH seem like the place to watch. Near classic match, like ****1/4+ type stuff. Almost 20 minutes 'vintage' ROH action. The last three fights actually resemble Ring of Honor of old. ----- Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Young Bucks - Another great tag match. I think having this after the Smash Bros one may have hurt it some. I waited a day to watch this but felt it didn't rock my world like that one did. Also seeing a few Young Bucks shows the past week or two diminished the pizzazz if their spots. They are less spontaneous than they seem after you've seen them a few times but n close proximity.That's one of my biggest issues with them. That all said, this is an all over the place crazy sequence heavy match. I am a fan of Superkicks as they add a bit of ferocity to what sometimes appears to be a gymnastics or acrobatics routine. All 4 guys did an excellent job pulling that off though. I wish we got to see more Kushida on his own in the Global Wars tour. Since these matches have all been free for alls, I didn't feel like I got to see what he was all about. Nonetheless, he's a talent and if I were younger, this match would have been mind blowing along with the SCU/Smash match. Jay Lethal vs Kenny King - ROH World Title Match - I remember really digging Kenny King's push back in 2018. I would catch ROH TV here and there. His hunt for Lethal was engaging so I am psyched to see this match. Even more so after watching him develop in FIP this past viewing year. He is a talent so to now see him with a larger frame and a killer instinct, he seems ready to take it to champ Jay Lethal. Jay Lethal 2018-present has been one of the best at making everything he's in seem important. So although the Toronto fans may not have had the energy for this, it was a helluva title fight between two rivals. 20+ minutes of intense and exciting wrestling. I wouldn't say it is perfect but it is a fantastic main event and end to the Global Wars tour. A classic match to me. ----- This without a doubt is the best show of the tour and although the Global Wars title might not be accurate, it still was high quality modern wrestling. This show is packaged with the Lowell, Lewiston, and Buffalo shows. It runs for $10.00-2.50 (the lowest was a black Friday deal) but even if you spent the $10 it would be worth it. A word to the wise ROH's S&H is kinda high so plan on getting a couple things to offset the cost. But yeah, a fantastic show in Toronto and a smattering of very good to great stuff across the other 3 dvds...including the excellent Sabin vs Lethal match in Buffalo ...this is a no brainer. Thanks for reading! Hoping to take a rest for the next few days. Then I'll post my year end Best Match Watched list and any superlatives I want to mention. Stay safe folks
  5. I got the 4 disc set from ROH last year on a season sale and shoot might as well check it out. I always wanna watch stuff in chronological order but I got to give that up or I'll never watch everything. This set is $5 for 4 discs. This is disc one...just want to keep it simple. Eli Isom vs Flip Gordon - I skipped this...great start, right? I got too much to watch to spend time with this. Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs The Bouncers - The start of my show and this was the way to do it. Speed vs power and vets vs younger guys...yeah this was very enjoyable. Was it the best use of Kaz & Scorp? No but, it was fun. Jeff Cobb vs Cheeseburger - I can justify The Bouncers but I really can't justify Cheeseburger. Skipped...terrible use of Jeff Cobb here. Matt Taven/Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Dalton Castle/The Boys - ROH Six-Man Tag Title Match - This was a really fun comedy match with some very good moments of wrestling. If you're feeling a PWG 6 man this will do the trick. Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - I'm watching these like ROH TV shows where they squeeze 3 matches in an hour. This is my main event for the "episode." And wow! This was a very good match. I'm not a Cody fan but he works really well in tag matches since his weaknesses are well concealed. The Briscoes are the tops and were working on making this a great **** level bout. Page was definitely game for that. Christopher Daniels vs Juice Robinson - This was disappointing but it did confirm my practice of treating every 3 matches like a TV episode. This then was fine for a TV opener. On to the next match! Bully Ray/Silas Young vs Young Bucks- I can understand that people don't want to see Ray in ROH. But this is more TNA then ROH in 2018 and they can really use a guy who can draw some heat...even cheap heat. There's no real faces or heels in the company here. He and Silas actually feel like actual heels and they are in their with the biggest faces of the company (tweener faces I guess??). The biggest stars of the company at least. So they work a real simple face/heel match. Bubba...or Bully bumps for the Bucks, Silas is the athletic heel and the Jackson boys do their stuff. This was a great match. People will disagree but the heel stuff made the Bucks' moves mean something. Jay Lethal/Jonathan Gresham/Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Tetsuya Naito/EVIL/SANADA/BUSHI - Big names and the main event to this episode and DVD! And you know that it came through! It wasn't as good as the previous match but once it picked up it gave you all the action you wanted to see from the guys. I'm not seeing the NJ guys as much as I used to (fine by me) but this is a nice way for someone only seeing NJPW in ROH to get a taste. Like TNA doing their Global X matches, its a really good 15 minute action match that is fast and exciting without killing anyone. That being said, this didn't have a lot of personality from LIJ besides EVIL. Lethal's team was fun as heck though! This was a really good DVD. I'd totally say this by itself is worth the $5. There's no classic encounter and only one great **** match this was so easy and fun to watch. Thanks for reading!
  6. Now this was my jam. This matchup has yet to give anything less than a great match. It was hard hitting, played off their previous matches well, and had a super hot crowd to boot. Both guys worked to their strengths with Ishii' striking and Naito's ability to piss Ishii off only adding to the match. Great, great match with it being one of the best of the tournament in the end. ****1/2
  7. G. Badger

    NJPW vs CHAOS 2010 tags

    So, this little project came about by searching for Tanaka vs Makabe matches on YouTube. How I got to that is a bit of a mystery. If I had to guess, I'd say it was out of curiosity alone. I don't think I found a singles encounter on the 'tube. However, there was a crap ton of tags available. Investigation revealed that a whole chunk of house show matches from the Fall of 2010 were recorded and uploaded by NJPW. These matches show some of the early battles between NJ main roster & CHAOS. CHAOS is or perhaps was one of the most popular stables but, it is a splinter group from Togi Makabe (Tenzan was originally leader) Great Bash Heel (Great Big Head, Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH) group. Nakamura staged a coup (he was an outsider who agitated the GBH members) and ousted Makabe (Honma sided with Makabe). So here we see an alliance of Makabe with Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto to combat Nakamura and his group of badasses. This begins about right after when Togi Makabe wins the IWGP Heavyweight title in May 2010. This series of matches reminds me of 1996 Michinoku Pro or 1990 AJPW tag matches. We have roughly the same parties for each encounter but, its exciting and interesting every time. Or at least to me I'll list full names as they first appear but, will use last names after that. Let's do the wrestling!!! Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito & Yujiro Takahashi (05/08/10): 10 man fight, alrighty then! This could be a mess but, everyone really clicks and no interactions overstay their welcome. Inoue really shines in this match. That maybe surprising since he's been off most fans radars since day one but, he brings it here. He's the Kikuchi on the NJ squad. A very excellent start where we learn that anyone can lose and anything can end it. Again, very M-Pro like or lucha like. Highly recommended Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto vs Nakamura, Tanaka & Ishii (09/04/10): Seemingly an upgrade but, a hair below the previous match in quality. It should be checked out nonetheless. Goto & Nakamura get into a mat scramble that leads to them fighting after a tag. The ref has to break them up and Shinsuke spits at Goto's feet. Very nasty stuff. Also, Takahashi and Nakamura's work together was subtle but very good. It reminded me of Misawa and Kawada in their 6 man matches. The work was organic to the point where it was understood that this was only one battle in a much larger war. So, Nakamura really excelled here but, Makabe the champ did as well. When he came in like a fucking berserker at the end, I was loving it! He sure as hell looked like the World Champ to me. 14 minutes of great wrestling. Tanahashi & Makabe vs Tanaka & Satoshi Kojima (09/10/10): Not sure if Kojima is CHAOS affiliated here. There was some good action but, Kojima & Tanaka's bland knee focused offense hurt this match. Generally, predestrian match. There are a couple other Kojima matches that I avoided because of this one. Too bad because I do like Kojima but, I feel like he may have lost "it" by this point. Nakamura, Naito & Takahashi vs Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto (09/19/10): Naito was first introduced to me as part of No Limit with Takahashi on TNA when they were fighting Motorcity Machine Guns for the IWGP Jr. belts. That was cool that TNA was having Japanese talent on TV. That's how I first saw Tanahashi too. Anyhow, Jr. team are with Shinsuke tonight to take on the NJ A-Team. Tana works the crowd up from the start. I get the feeling that this is a smaller, less hardcore crowd as they're all very pro Tanahashi. He starts of with some nice wrestling with Naito but, we soon get Goto & Naka which leads to a slow Tanahashi babyface in danger segment. Now, the ACE is pretty darn good in peril but, this felt a bit more lethargic then the previous encounters. Again, I chalk it up to the venue/event/crowd size. Goto & Nakamura get back into it and that leads to the hot stretch to a finish portion. It's a recommended match as it stokes the feud's fire but, it's a little formulaic. Hey, the 90-92 Misawa/Jumbo 6 mans went there a few times too (Not that this is on THAT level) ;P Tanaka & Ishii vs Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (11/03/10): Wished we got some stuff from October but, maybe that was the Kojima stuff I skipped. Anyhow, this is from the G1 Tag League. There are some expected long strike exchanges that hurt the flow of the match but, this was a nice battle nonetheless. The real standout was Tanaka. He nearly beats the GBH remenants on his own and goes straight psycho-killer on the Unchained Gorilla Makabe on the floor. I'd highly recommend this match to Dangan fans for sure! Ok so now we get a little Jr. participation. I want to go in depth on this series at another date but, here is a little taste as it fits into the timeline very well. Inoue, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs Nakamura, Naito & Davey Richards (11/19/10): Yup, Davey was in NJ for a year or two. I totally forgot about it but, thought it was a great move for him at the time. He really should have focused more on a career in Japan. That being said, this had good reason to be a train wreck as I'm wasn't confident in Davey's ability to work with the NJ natives. Sure, he had NOAH experience but, he usually was on a gaijin team. I was expecting some bungling but, nope! This was some fast paced magic. Davey was great yelling shit in English too Taguchi though...damn. 13 minutes of action. Naito, Takahashi & Richards vs Tanahashi, Taguchi & Devitt (11/27/10): Naito taking Tanahashi to the canvas and grappling is something to always I'll enjoy. Frankly, if Tanahashi scrapped the leg focus stuff and was a matworker like Osamu Nishimura yet threw in his highspots, I'd probably be a giant fan of his. That being said, his performance in this series has made me a bit of a convert. Also my Ryusuke Taguchi appreciation continues to grow. Um, I don't have too many notes on the action as I really dug this one. Davey is in there more often than the previous encounter and it works well. He and Apollo 55 go at it. Tanahashi finally goes Super Saiyan and unloads. It really means something though as he has not needed to do so until now. There really is something to NOT doing big moves all of the time. I think the ACE is as guilty as anyone from what I've seen but, in this series (and because these are mainly house shows) he has showed the restraint and discernment of a true veteran. Great match Tanahashi, Makabe & Manabu Nakanishi vs Tanaka, Yano & Nakamura (12/02/10): Maybe it was Yano being back in the mix but, this was another really good 6 man. Nakanishi played his caveman part well and added a nice dynamic at this point in the series. Admittedly, these are running together especially, as Makabe and Tanaka aren't changing their routine up too much. But, it's all good. This feud is giving me a WAR vs NJ vibe. Sweet finish, highly recommended match. Nakamura, Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & Inoue (12/04/10): This venue looks like the classic Michinoku Pro gym from the 90's. It's not but, I think I'm wanting to be. This feud/program has been just so much fun. This one starts with Tana vs Tranquilo-to-be on the mat but quickly has all 8 men fighting. Wataru taking on Nakamura- hells yes, dude! Obviously, it doesn't work out in the end and CHAOS isolate and destroy. When, Togi Makabe gets that tag, watch out! The man cleans house. He lariats the shit out of Tanaka but, payback is a bitch. Tana's still killing it and when Yuji Nagata comes in like a MF-ing veteran- holy shit! Insane stretch run and fantastic finish. Great, great match. Makabe & Honma vs Nakamura & Tanaka (12/05/10):I love the single floor camera that most of these matches feature. It is great for this type of stuff as you can hear how hard the blows are & you're ringside and even in the middle of the action. You wouldn't belive these are house shows based off how hard they are going at it. Dangan and the Gorilla do their routine but, again it fucking works. Its so intense and you never can tell if there's gonna be a twist. Their brawling outside and after the bell is just pure pro wrestling. And damn 2010 Nakamura is the optimal version to me. I like the Beat It tribute act but, there's something about the straight forward confidence of this character. Another great match. In conclusion, these small show mathces put things back into perspective. Most fans especially overseas only really get the opportunity or make the time to watch the BIG shows and BIG matches. Myself included. We compare Big Show A to Big Show B (not Paul Wight). But, damn, it's these gems in between that are where it's at to me. There's no excessive finishers or kickouts or resthold masking as psychology. There's only enough time to get your simple but, engaging story across. Its 15-20 minutes of a struggle, of "fighting." This batch of matches felt like Choshu-Tenryu style for the 21st century. Who knows if they're still doing this or if this really was just the rare product of having so much talent peaking in the ring. This has been probably my longest blog entry so, if you've made it this far. I want to mention where my next little exploration into NJ from nearly a decade ago is going. I think the start of the resurgence in interest in NJ was with the influx of gaijin Jrs. like Devitt, Omega, Shelley/Sabin, Romero & Koslov and others (Davey & Low-Ki for example). Their pairing with talent like Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, bringing in Kota Ibushi (along with Omega), Marufuji and eventually KUSHIDA helped brings eyes back to New Japan in the early 2010's. NOAH was a shell of itself after Misawa died and AJPW had lost it's interest after Muto changed it (although early 2010 AJ is another shiny bit of seaglass on the beach that I am investigating). So, it was only natural that someone had to fill the void. I'd like to check this period out a bit more. There were certainly people in the know back then but, I think 8 years later and with giant interest in NJ, it's important to look back.
  8. Absolute madmen, that's what these two are. This was an absolutely spectacular match w/ them going all out - loved Naito's performance, he was terrific working over the neck of Ibushi & then later selling the damage Ibushi did to him with those goddamn crazy big moves & kicks. Just a total spectacle with these 2 lads destroying each other. ****1/2
  9. Well, this was a complete waste of time. If you thought Okada being locked 40 minutes in a leglock and still winning after doind his usual offense was bad, you'll hate this even more, as Naito's comebacks were even less earned and his overall performance was lazy and downright bad. If you thought that match against Okada was good, you'll also dislike this because Naito fucked every single hope spot up. It was boring, sloppy, he appears to break MiSu's nose with a slap and almost every single spot he does is too slow, too soft or misses completely. Just shit.
  10. Typical match of it's kind, but I usually always enjoy them, so I ain't complaining. This was very fun. Everybody got their time to shine & it resulted in a very good, fun match. ***1/2
  11. Just as good as their G1 meeting from last year. A complete ZSJ torture show w/ him breaking Naito down, limb by limb. When Naito was mounting a comeback in the end, getting ready to hit that Destino, I was ready to say he was getting too much offense in, but then ZSJ countered that & the match ended! Just at the perfect time. Great match. ****
  12. Talk about it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt3o8JDKQ9U#t=0
  13. The thing about the rope running counters are that they aren't inherently bad-they worked great in 80s/90s All Japan-but you need moves and peril behind them. Naito and Tanahashi did have them-Naito in the Running Low Dropkicks and the Flying Elbow, Tanahashi in the Slingblade. But they opted to not use them for dramatic purposes, and that and the lack of big moves and spamming nearfalls is what made me go "that's it?" when the match ended. I realise these two are never going to do it for some people since they're Keiji Mutoh fanboys and their offence is juniorish in a way some dislike, but I think they structured a very good match that combined the best elements of the matches they worked back in 2010/2011 and the matches they worked now and recently. Tanahashi's character is one who often tries to match his opponents, which is one of the biggest reasons I disliked their 2015 G1 match a lot. It's much more interesting when one is reacting to Naito's character, but one also has to actually have a character to be able to do that. That Tanahashi didn't mimick Naito at all made his taunt after he laid him out at ringside mean much more as you could hear in the pop it got. Naito's character allowed him to to keep his legwork interesting by constantly finding ways to make basic spots fresh and varied-him directing Tanahashi's leg at the referee and using that split second to quickly quick it was brilliant, and I loved the desperate rope pull he did that prevented Tanahashi from hitting the High Fly Flow. Naito's Bridging German where his leg gave out at first but he used his other leg to kick himself back up and hold Tanahashi for the count was a neat detail and something that fits into how they treat limbwork very well. Them exchanging low kicks did look weak but outside of that they handled the mirroring spots surprisingly well. Not the match I'd have expected to most differ from New Japan conventions but I'm glad it did. ***1/2
  14. A big time dramatic main event epic. I really loved it for the most part - it had some selling issues, but overall I thought it was a really damn good match. ***3/4
  15. I don't know, guys. I think they broke me. Perhaps I just understand the "grammar" of this style more now or perhaps they really just have finally refined this main event NJPW style to something that I completely enjoy because I LOVED THIS. It starts off a little slow but without much of the meandering matwork that comes from matches earlier in the year. Here, they go right for the good juicy meaty stuff. Lots of mind games from both guys as expected and lots of personality. Both guys target the neck relentlessly and there are some pretty fantastic moments that surround it. Omega not being able to complete his usual kip up and springboard was MASTERFUL (5 star moment). Omega stayed fairly consistent with his neck selling all throughout the match too and god knows it played right into the finish as well. Naito meanwhile put in what might be one hell of a babyface performance. He looked amazing taking just a BRUTAL beating from Omega. I have so much love for Omega's repeated and deliberate V Triggers all building up to that glorious callback of Naito collapsing just as Omega went in for one more (5 star moment). It was a great spot at Dominion and it's a great spot here. Then you have that ridiculous top rope DDT into the ring post and a whole series of bumps that people really shouldn't be taking (face first into the turnbuckle off the top, top rope powerbomb countered into Rana, etc.). Loved the desperation of Naito at the finishing stretch trying to hit any variation of Destino possible to get a pinfall. He probably went for one too many but that is a minuscule nitpick to this match. Is this the MOTY? It just might be. It really just might be. While Okada-Omega III had the blistering pace and the down to earth story, this seemed to perfect the more theatrical elements that something like the Dominion match aspired for. Whoa, boy, what a G1. *****
  16. This was your classic Zack Sabre Jr. torture show. He worked all over Naito w/ his submissions & slick transitions - in many ways this was similar to the match ZSJ had vs. YOSHI-HASHI on Day 5 of the tournament (I gave that match ***), the difference is that in that match, it seemed like only ZSJ brought it while YOSHI-HASHI gave a very soulless performance working from underneath as ZSJ tortured the crap out of him with those submissions. That sure wasn't the case with Naito here as he definitely matched Zack's great performance w/ his selling & great comeback flurries. Loved his selling post-match, too. ****
  17. Last stop on the Kizuna Road tour and I was most interested in here in the Okada/Anderson interaction as I know they have some big matches upcoming with the G-1. They get a decent chunk of this match with Anderson booting Okada hard in the corner, and Okada reversing his powerbomb into the inverted neckbreaker. Anderson gets off a bunch of neck breakers and does hit his big power bomb but Yujiro breaks up the pin, which makes him look pretty strong. Naito wins with Stardust on Yujiro. This was perfectly fine.
  18. Impressive performance by Juice in his first big time real main event opportunity. He looked very good & his selling of the leg was very strong throughout the whole match - I was actually afraid he would totally no sell it when Naito started to attack it right away, but he sold it really well from start to finish. ***3/4
  19. This was fantastic. Loved the Naito vs. KENTA interactions, superb stuff. Tanaka & Marufuji beat the shit out of each other too & it was great. KENTA's FIP segment was super strong, great selling from him. Hot finishing stretch. Yep, this ruled big time. ****1/2
  20. Typical New Japan main event 'epic'. The first half was completely forgettable, the work Naito did on Elgin's leg was sold pretty badly by Big Mike. The match only got interesting once they kicked into the finishing gear w/ them just throwing big bombs at each other, but even then, it wasn't very interesting. *
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